ABSTRACT

Recollections of childhood are typically imbued with a sense of place and space. Memories of events and experiences are suffused with, and in turn evoked by, sights, sounds, smells of this road, park, house, that alleyway, walk by the river, hidden cranny, this school yard, dark tunnel, railway and that playground, pool, farm. Idealised, romanticised or recalled with misery or sadness, places of childhood leave their traces in the public spaces of the city through which we pass. Nowhere is this more clear than in literary or autobiographical texts. These idealised landscapes, according to Ward (1978: 1) evoke a paradise lost and are frequently bound up with notions of rural family life. Raymond Williams (1973) (quoted in Ward 1978: 1) describes it thus:

an idea of the country is an idea of childhood: not only the local memories, or the ideally shared communal memory, but the feel of childhood; of delighted absorption in our own world . . . but what is interesting now is that we have had enough stories and memories of urban childhoods to perceive the same patterns where these are now sites like the local corner shop or the rag and bone man.